By Johana Kotišová, available here.
This paper investigates the epistemic injustice in conflict reporting, where foreign parachute reporters collaborate with local producers and ‘fixers.’ Drawing from existing research on ‘fixers’ and other media professionals covering conflict zones and the philosophy of emotion and knowledge, I address the following questions: What is the role of local and foreign media professionals’ affective proximity and professional distance in the social epistemology of conflict news production and the epistemic hierarchy among the collaborators? What implications is this particular social epistemology believed to have for conflict reporting accuracy and ethics? Based on 36 semi-structured to in-depth interviews with foreign and local media professionals covering Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine and further online and offline contact with the Ukrainian ecosystem of foreign/conflict news production, I argue that the collaboration between foreign and local media professionals is sometimes marked by identity-prejudicial credibility deficit granted to local media professionals because of their affective proximity to the events they cover. This epistemic injustice mirrors other power vectors and the dominant journalistic professional ideology that values disinvolvement, distance, and detachment. In practice, the (local) media professionals’ affective proximity to their contexts is often appreciated as embodied knowledge beneficial to the nuance, accuracy, and ethics of journalistic practices and outcomes.